October 10, 2013

Two Kinds of Tongues?

by Nathan Busenitz

In light of the upcoming Strange Fire Conference, it seemed fitting to post something related to the charismatic-cessationist debate.

Charismatics generally define the gift of tongues as a devotional prayer language that is available to every believer. This prayer language, according to its proponents, is not bound to the linguistic structures of earthly, human languages. In other words, it is not a real language — but rather “angelic” speech which supposedly transcends human language.

But therein lies a problem. On the one hand, the charismatic version of tongues does not consist of real human languages. On the other hand, Acts 2 makes it clear that the tongues spoken at Pentecost were real human languages.

So how can modern charismatics justify a type of “tongues” that does not fit the biblical description in Acts 2?

Proponents of modern tongues usually answer that question by asserting that there are at least two types of tongues in the New Testament. Charismatic blogger Adrian Warnock summed up the charismatic position like this:

One thing that most of us agree on is that there are different kinds of tongues…. I think it is fair to say that the tongues of 1 Corinthians are different from those of Acts 2.  Paul himself speaks here of different kinds of tongues. It is at least possible that at different points in this passage [1 Cor. 12–14] Paul is talking about different forms of tongues.

In this post, I want to briefly respond to the idea that the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 is somehow qualitatively different than in Acts 2.

* * * * *

Is the gift of tongues in Acts the same as in 1 Corinthians?

Without giving an in-depth exegetical treatment of the related passages, here are some initial observations that suggest that there is no qualitative difference between the two:

1. Same Source (the Holy Spirit)

Acts – The miraculous tongues in Acts were directly related to the working of the Holy Spirit (2:4, 18; 10:44–46; 19:6). In fact, tongue-speaking is evidence of having received the “gift” of the Holy Spirit (10:45).

1 Corinthians – As in Acts, the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians was directly related to the working of the Holy Spirit (12:1, 7, 11, etc.). Similarly, the gift of tongues is an evidence (or “manifestation”) of having received the Holy Spirit (12:7).

2. Same Recipients (apostles and non-apostles)

Acts – Along those lines, in Acts 11:15–17, Peter implies that the tongue-speaking of Acts 10 was the same as that of Acts 2, even noting that Cornelius and his household had received the same gift (dorea) as the apostles on the Day of Pentecost. This indicates that the tongues of the Apostles (in Acts 2) was not limited just to the Apostles, but was also experienced (at least) by both Cornelius’s household (Acts 10) and the disciples of Apollos (Acts 19).

1 Corinthians – Paul, as an Apostle, possessed the gift of tongues (14:18). Yet he recognized that there were those in the Corinthian church who also possessed the gift.

3. Same Description (speaking gift consisting of content that could be meaningfully interpreted)

Acts – The miraculous ability, as it is described in Acts 2, is the supernatural ability to speak in other tongues (meaning foreign languages) (2:4, 9–11).

1 Corinthians – As in Acts, the gift of tongues is described as a speaking gift (12:30; 14:2, 5). The fact that it can be interpreted/translated (12:10; 14:5, 13) indicates that it consisted of an authentic foreign language, similar to the tongues of Acts 2. (Paul’s direct association of tongue-speaking with foreign languages in 14:10–11 and also his reference to Isaiah 28:11, 12 strengthens this claim.)

4. Same Terminology (“glossa”)

Acts – The primary word for tongues in Acts is “glossa” (2:4, 11; 10:46; 19:6), although it is also described with the word “dialekto” on two occasions (2:6, 8).

1 Corinthians –As in Acts, the primary word for tongues in 1 Corinthians 12–14 is “glossa” (12:10, 28; 13:1, 8; 14:2, 4, 5, 9, 13, 18, 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 39), though Paul also uses the term “phoneo” twice (in 14:10–11).

It is important to note that Luke (the author of Acts) was a close associate of Paul (the writer of 1 Corinthians). Luke wrote the book of Acts at least five years after Paul wrote his first epistle to the church at Corinth. It is unlikely, then, that Luke would have used the exact same terminology as Paul if he understood there to be an essential difference between the two (especially since such could lead to even greater confusion about the gifts — a confusion which Luke knew plagued the Corinthian church).

5. Same Purpose (a sign for unbelieving Jews)

Acts – On the Day of Pentecost, the gift of tongues was a sign for unbelieving Jews (2:5, 12, 14, 19).

1 Corinthians – As in Acts, the gift of tongues was a sign for unbelieving Jews (14:21–22; cf. Is. 28:11). Note that the gift is even called a “sign” in 14:22 (the word “sign” is from the same Greek word as “sign” in Acts 2:22). Thus, the Corinthian use of tongues was a sign just as the Apostles use of tongues was a sign.

6. Same Connection (with the gift of prophecy)

Acts – The gift of tongues is closely connected with prophecy (2:16–18; 19:6) and with other signs that the Apostles were performing (2:43)

1 Corinthians – As in Acts, the gift of tongues is closely connected with prophecy (all throughout 12–14).

7. Same Reaction from Unbelievers

Acts – Some of the unbelieving Jews at Pentecost accused the apostles of being drunk when they heard them speaking in other tongues (languages which those particular Jews did not understand).

1 Corinthians – Similar to Acts, Paul says that unbelievers will accuse the Corinthians of being mad [not unlike “drunk”] if their tongues go uninterpreted (14:23), and are therefore not understood by the hearer.

The biblical evidence (from the correlating observations above) supports the conclusion that the gift of tongues described in 1 Corinthians consisted of the same phenomenon as the gift of tongues depicted in Acts 2. At the very least, it puts the burden of proof on charismatics who claim that there are different kinds of tongues described in these two New Testament passages.

(It should be noted that when Paul speaks of kinds [genos] of tongues in 1 Corinthians 12:10, he is speaking about different families of languages. He is not differentiating real languages from non-languages. Rather, he is differentiating real languages from one another [e.g. Greek vs. Hebrew vs. Latin]).

One final point. The early church fathers consistently understood the gift of tongues in Acts to be the same as the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians. (For more on that point, click here.) Even the original Pentecostals (e.g. Charles Parham) saw no distinction between the two. The idea that the tongues in 1 Corinthians are categorically different from the tongues in Acts is a distinctly modern charismatic interpretation. In our opinion, it has been forced onto the text in order to justify behavior that would otherwise have no biblical precedent.

* * * * *

Summing It Up:

1) The manifestation of tongues in Acts 2 was clearly the ability of the apostles to speak in authentic foreign languages which they previously had not learned.

2) The manifestation of tongues in Acts 10 (and by implication Acts 19) is said, by Peter, to have been the same as what occurred in Acts 2.

3) The exegetical and historical evidence indicates that the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians consisted of the same phenomena as that described in Acts.

4) Thus, we conclude that the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 12–14 was (as in Acts 2) the ability of select believers to speak in authentic foreign languages which they previously had not learned.

5) To assert that the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians is something qualitatively different than a real human language (as in non-rational spiritual prayer speech) is exegetically and contextually untenable when compared with Acts 2.

Nathan Busenitz

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Nathan serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles.
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  • Jim Dowdy

    Thank you Nathan. This is very clear and succinct.

    Jim Dowdy

  • Jerry W

    Excellent work, Nathan!

  • Jeff Rauf

    I knew it! Thank you for the proof sir.

  • steve

    Dear Pastor Nathan,

    No doubt you are a man of learning and of letters with understanding and so I appeal to your open and critical mind to consider my words and thoughts.

    Your exigesis of 1 Corinthians 12-14, being the same as Acts 2:4 is incorrect.
    Firstly, the 120 believers (including Mary the Morther of Jesus) who spake with ‘unknown’ tongues (or more correctly ‘known languages’, but NOT by the 12 or 120) on the Day of Pentecost. Their experience was not given, as you seem to inticate,a supernatural language to “preach or speak to foreigners’ per sie, no. It is quite clear from the context, that those 120 believers, including the 12 Apostles were NOT preaching in foreign ;tongues’, but were speaking, the ‘wonderful works of God’, Acts 2:11. (St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians that when a man prayeth in a tongue at grace/meal, he gives ‘thanks well’.) This unknown tongue they received at Pentecost is very similiar to ‘prophecy that Joel mentioned in 2:28, and Peter quoted and confirmed, but it was NOT a “tongue-language’ for preaching a rational message (nor is ‘prophecy’) in a foreign language’ as a preacher would normally prepare and preach a message, or a foreign language one would learn in a college. It is also clear from the context, they, the 120, did not know what they talking (saying) as the text and context would indicate, as there were more than 18 different nationalies mentioned or gathered at Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost, each perhaps knowing with their own particular dialect and maybe some Aramaic. How would the 120 newly spirit-baptized believers, know which ‘foreign language’ was whose or what? That was ‘the miracle!’, and that was why the mockers were saying “they are drunk with new wine!”. This is the context and true picture of the event just taken place. The mockers and unlearned had just witnessed their first miracle, as did the 120.

    The second reason why you failed in your exegisis of these scriptures is that St. Paul was not addressing, in Corinth, “new” hearers as in Acts 2, 37-38, but Paul is addressing the ‘Spirit-filled’ church. These Corinthian Christians undoubtedly would have also had the initial Christian baptism of the Holy Ghost (and water immersion), as was experienced on the Day of Pentecost and again on the Gentiles in Acts 10:44-46, which was the ‘like’ Gift (Acts 11) they had received at Pentecost, and as experienced during Phillip’s evangelical exploits into Samaria (Ats 8:15-18) and the Ephesian disciples Acts 19:1-7 (Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul is recounting their “pentecostal’ experience.) Paul;s epistle to the Corinthians is to correct them in how to exercise the “charismatic pneumaticos- voice gifts” not the ‘initial evidence as at Pentecost and the rest of the Acts of the Apostles). This is quite incorrect. Why? Because the scripture is very clear as to the distinction between the ‘glossalalia” of the book of Acts and the Gift opf divers kinds of tongues in 1 Corinthians 12-14; This is different, and for the “Church” to exercise and interpret (not translate) as it is that ‘speaking in (unknown ) tongues (languages) is “NOT unto men (to preach in foreign tongues and foreign lands), but UNTO God: for no man UNDERSTANDETH him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh MYSTERIES. (1 Cor.14:2). These are the correct interpretation and exegises of the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) with the Bible evidence of speaking in other tongues (not foreign languages) and the aforementioned scriptures.

    Kindest regards


    • Nate B.

      Hi Steve,
      Thank you for your comment. I must admit I am a little confused as to what you are asserting. On the one hand, you seem to suggest that the tongues in Acts 2 were “known languages.” On the other hand, you indicate that they were not known languages. Then you seem to assert that the miracle at Pentecost was a gift of hearing, but that runs contrary to Acts 2:4 which makes it clear that those gathered in the Upper Room spoke in other languages.
      So, I must confess, I’m not exactly sure how to respond because I don’t fully understand your position. That being said, I believe there is strong exegetical evidence in Acts 2 to support the fact that the tongues of Pentecost were real human languages. Almost all biblical commentators (both charismatic and cessationist) would agree with me on that point.

      Regarding the differences between Pentecost and the Corinthian church, you are absolutely right that the former was manifested publicly while the latter was manifested in the church. But that does not mean that the tongues themselves were qualitatively different. It only demonstrates that they were exercised in a different context.
      One of the primary rules of hermeneutics is that we ought to let the clearer passage of Scripture help us interpret the less clear. In Acts 2 (the clearer passage), tongues are described as real languages. We ought to allow that passage to help us understand how tongues should be viewed in the less clear passage of 1 Cor 12-14.
      Thank you again for your comment. It is a joy to discuss these things for the glory of Christ.

  • Brad

    It seems to me that we could just as easily make a list of the differences between the gift of tongues in Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians.

    • Nate B

      Hi Brad,
      Thanks for your comment. Actually, I don’t think a list could be made that would demonstrate *qualitative* differences between the tongues in Acts and the tongues in 1 Corinthians.

      • Bako Oganyan

        Wow there seems to be a lot of confusion about the gift of tongues!

        That is why I wrote a little piece about it called “The origin of Language”. You will find I clarify and agree with most of your statements. Please enjoy.

        The Origin of Language

        Fellow Saints, of the royal priesthood of Jesus Christ, my beloved brothers and sisters, it has come to my attention that there are many who are confused about the special gift and manifestation of the Holy Spirit which is the speaking of tongues(languages).

        The first confusion I would like to clear up is that speaking in tongues, is not speaking in a tongue at all, as our modern English instructors would tell us, it is more about speaking with the tongue, and speech is achieved through a language. The Greek word for tongue, is also the same word for language. Now the special gift of the Holy Spirit is manifest with a tongue, the fruit of which is speech in many different languages. In an effort to clear up confusion, I believe it is safe to say, that the gift would be more properly referred to as speaking in languages, in modern English, and this is how I will refer to it in the rest of this essay.

        The second confusion I would like to clear up, is that we have been sold a lie, or at least many have been, that languages have evolved throughout the many thousands of years. I am going to suggest a contrasting Biblical understanding on the origin of language. The first case of evidence of languages in the Bible is supplied in the third verse of the Book of Genesis, [“God said “Let there be light..”]. A peculiar way that the Holy Spirit chose to start the Bible, is that through speech God creates, destroys, transforms, and is manifest. We know this to be true, because in the first verse of the Gospel of John it is written, [“In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God…”] So we are absolutely certain that God is manifest through speech, and ultimately his word, who is Jesus Christ […and the Word was God]. We, fellow believers, also believe that Jesus Christ lives inside of us, and that we do not worship a mute God as idol worshipers did. We find that in the second chapter of the fourth verse of the Acts of the Apostles, it is written that the apostles spoke [“as the Spirit gave them utterance.”] Full Quote:[And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other [languages], as the Spirit gave them utterance.] Now brothers and sisters, I would like to bring about the understanding that it is only by the Spirit that this type of speech is possible. Now the Bible makes it clear that the Spirit being the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit is different from what is commonly known as the spirit in lowercase. [1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12] Wanting the keep the focus on languages, I will make a reference about how this lowercase spirit of man, which God has given us men, found in 1 Corinthians 2:11, also produces utterance. I would like to remind my readers that in the beginning, it was this same lowercase spirit that gave Adam and Eve utterance and communication with God. Adam first spoke when he named the living creatures as God commended, [“…and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.” Genesis 2:19] We also know that [Adam] or man in Hebrew, is fallen, and that “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwells no good thing.” Brothers we also know it is written in the Gospel of Luke our Lord said “For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” And if there is nothing good in a man, can we seriously expect man to utter good things? No we cannot. In fact for this very reason God divided the languages, so that man will not unite in evil in wicked open rebellion against God, and vain attempt to glorify themselves as they do try to do today.

        Therefore many confused souls are alarmed, and even disturbed by what they do not know, so the they fear. But God says in the Book of Isaiah, [“Do not fear, for I am with you.”] I also want to give my brothers and sisters knowledge that by trusting God’s word they will not be in the dark on this matter, but will be illuminated. Not like those who claim to be illuminated but are really of the synagogue of Satan, but like the children of light, who we really are. I want you my fellow Saints, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ to know that it was God who created and ordered the division of language, and his same word divides spirit and soul. For when men sought to create a name for themselves, that is to glorify themselves through the creation of a tower, God reminded man that it was his creation of language that gave them unification. Since men had used this gift to glorify themselves, God ultimately ensured that they would not set themselves above God, as Satan has attempted and failed, by sending his angels and causing the division of languages. It is interesting to note that there was 70 descendants of Noah’s three sons listed in the Book of Genesis Chapter 10, whereas to it is believed there is 70 distinct rhythmic sounds in all 6,000 languages around the world, of which I believe from the 70 sounds these languages have developed. Now my fellow brothers and sisters, since we know that it is written [“Who hath made man’s mouth?…have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say” Exodus 4:11,12] and if the Lord teaches us what to say, and how to speak, and especially since we are sealed with his Spirit, it is not all too foreign that the Lord who creates language gives the ability to utter them also. So my fellow brothers and sisters, do not be frightened when you hear different languages, many languages, but instead test the Spirits! Is it the spirit of man that is speaking, or the Spirit of God that gives utterance. We are even further warned by the Apostle John, in his first epistle to [“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”]. And my fellow brothers and sisters, I want you to know that in the Book of Job, it is written that [“But it is a spirit in people, the breath of the Almighty, that makes them understand.”] so if we have the breath of the Almighty, and now the Spirit of Jesus Christ, God himself within us, regenerating us, we can have true understanding, from him that was truth itself. Amen. So my dearly beloved brothers and sisters, when others speak in a foreign language near you, do not be disgruntled, instead join in prayer, which is speech of God. Remember that we too are foreigners of this world, and that we are really citizens of heaven, sealed with God’s spirit which is our entry ticket into his place of rest. Rest assured that in heaven there too God will speak to us through his spirit, and since we are sealed with his Spirit, his Spirit within us will give us this understanding. Remember my brothers and sisters, so that no one will sway your minds away from the truth, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Many do not fully comprehend this gift, therefore make unbiblical assertions about these matters. I believe they stem from too much theology and not enough experience. [“Do not only be hearers of the word and so deceive yourselves!”] James 1:22.

        Firstly the most unbiblical assertion is that we replicate the Church of Corinth, and many within the church begin speaking in spirit, that is in a foreign language in the presence of all the corporate body of Christ. This is unbiblical because the Apostle Paul on his letter to the Corinthian church says that those who have a gift to speak in a foreign language, without a translator present, must remain silent. He explains his reasoning that if someone who is a unbeliever or uninformed on the matter, as many of us were at one point, won’t understand what is taking place and will likely think everyone is crazy. Brothers and sisters, will this not certainly undermine the gospel of Jesus Christ? Another more ignored issue is that although the one praying Spirit edifies himself, the whole church is seldom edified by this. So while one believer is filled with the spirit, others around him don’t feel this same edification. They are disconnected from what is supposed to be a corporate body of prayer, a unified prayer. So what church has a body where the same gift is manifest throughout all members? None that I know of, yet this big misconception that all believers must speak in foreign languages and in spirit in order to have to Holy Spirit, is unbiblical. Instead Apostle Paul writes to the church saying a different gift is manifest through the Spirit for the edification of the whole church. He also rhetorically asks “will all speak in languages” and the obvious answer is no. Apostle Paul also notes that it is only the Spirit that chooses what gifts to distribute to the body. There is a false assertion that “praying in the Holy Spirit is a personal language between only you and God”, and that praying in different “languages” is a different selective gift, compared to the gift of speaking through the Holy Spirit. This is unbiblical, especially since Apostle Paul asserts that “when I speak in Spirit, I speak in languages”, therefore invalidating any chance of a entirely private language that is only between you and God, different from the gift of speaking in languages that we already know about. Likewise the Holy Spirit itself is a gift, declares the Apostle Peter, in the Book of Acts, and since speaking in languages is mentioned separately as a gift of the Spirit, one can conclude that the two are separate and that the gift of the Holy Spirit is not necessarily manifested through speaking in foreign languages. Furthermore speaking in languages is only beneficial to the whole church when translation is possible, otherwise it is only beneficial and most loving and appreciative when you pray privately with God and to God in spirit. So brothers and sisters, let us not be ignorant in these matters. Let us be discerning of these matters, but if we are to test the gifts of the spirit, what is the criteria? Especially if one is not capable of understanding. An important thing for all Christians is not to panic, or let the enemy take hold of this disadvantage, instead trust solely in God to provide you truth as you maneuver. If you can audibly understand what is being said by someone you believe is or claims is speaking through the Spirit, it is important to compare what is being said to the Bible, which is written by the Holy Spirit. Yet amidst this confusion, it is important not to jump to conclusions, for the Apostle Paul says that, when he prays by the Spirit, it is all mysterious, so it should not be surprising that this is likewise mysterious to you, which is why many have incorrectly claimed it to be a “distinct private prayer language”. The prophet Isaiah speaks of this confusion [“For by people of strange lips and a foreign tongue the LORD will speak…. And the word of the LORD will be to them…here a little, there a little…” Isaiah 28:11,13]. This is the same passage the Apostle Paul quotes in reference to speaking in languages, so we know that their is a connection between the two. The first conclusion we can draw from this passage is the the LORD is speaking, through the lips, therefore it is the speech of the Holy Spirit who is God, forever he is blessed. The second is that this will be intermittent speech, a little here and a little there. This is why the Apostle Paul asserts that [we know in part, and prophesy in part], it correlates to “a little here, a little there”. So it should not be to your surprise that when you hear an infant attempt to speak, that the infant does not use complete words, or even clear syllables. The same is someone who is not mature in the gifts he has received, and is only capable of [a little here and a little there] and far less than many mature uses of the gift which are still yet “a little here, and a little there”. Therefore equipped with this knowledge we are one step more prepared to understand the supernatural gift of speaking in languages, that it may be bits and fragments, incomprehensible, mysterious, and holy, and with discernment we can test the spirits. Yet there is another type of language that is spoken through the spirit, known as the language of angels mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:1. Some lacking in knowledge have asserted that anytime you experience an internal ability to speak by the spirit, that it is not and will not be understandable, [which by the way it was not unexpected (the fact that it is not understood) to the early believers because according to the prophet Isaiah it would be a foreign language, and Paul reassures the Corinthians although they are not witnessing to Jews], that you are speaking in the language of angels, but this is hardly true. In fact if we look at the example of the supernatural gift to speak in a language in the Book of Acts, this supernatural gift was manifesting in a language comprehensible to the surrounding people. This is not to say that this gift will always occur in this way, but that it is important to observe that the language of angels is most likely not being displayed here, and that although this gift reappears throughout the Book of Acts, none of the occurrences make note of a language of Angels, yet there is an occurrence that is worth noting that will bring even more insight into this amazing gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 10:46 [For they were hearing them speaking in languages and extolling God.] It is apparent that again those gathered around understood whatever language that was being spoken by the Holy Spirit, and what was being said. I believe that is also essential to draw a connection here between speaking in languages, and prophecy. Let us note that prophecy is the enabled speech of God, by some medium chosen by God, whether it is writing or verbal speech, or a vision that is imparted to someone. Also let us note that the Apostle Paul in his letter of orderly use of spiritual gifts in the Church of Corinth, recommends that if an interpreter is present two or three should speak while one interprets, he gives the same command for those who prophesy, while prophets did not require an interpreter. The connection here is obvious, that when you speak in a “tongue” rather a language as I have earlier noted, it is the Holy Spirit that is speaking. If the Holy Spirit is speaking, then God is speaking through an individual, therefore prophecy is being imparted. This certainly does not mean that new contradictory revelation to the Bible will arise as others have asserted! We are to weigh what is said by the Bible to know if it is from the Holy Spirit, that is a command of the Lord, because certainly false prophets were then and are now. Yet since this particular gift required translation before it could be edifying to the Church, it entered a subcategory that of which is not prophecy. Since this essay is to deal mainly with the characteristics of the former gift, a separate wisdom piece would be required to inform the reader about the supernatural gift of prophecy completely. Now, 1 Corinthians 13:1 is the only mention of the language of angels, that is a language of angels that is separate from what we now understand and perceive as a common language. We already spoke of a language on earth that was the same between everyone, before the division in the tower of Babel took place. Some have suggested that this is a hyperbole, and I reaffirm that this is the most likely such. While I do not deny that it could be a mention of the language before Babel, for it is written “Then God spoke to Adam”. Now when God was directly speaking to Adam, there is a language being used there. Some argue whether this is an audible language or not, and I would argue it is. It is written that the serpent also speaks to Eve, and that Adam and Eve and God all three had a conversation at the fall. Now, based on the evidence it would seem that there is definitely a singular unifying language present enabling all the individuals in the Garden of Eden to communicate with each other. Is this possibly the untainted language of angels, or of God, or the Spirit? No one can say for certain, but what is certain is that their is a language present and that one cannot say that the Holy Spirit is incapable of gifting one to speak in this now foreign language. So fellow Saints, cleaned and washed by the blood of Jesus Christ, let us not submit to misguided speculation concerning supernatural gifts, which is the heart of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but let us be led by the Spirit which gives us understanding and discernment, and to another wisdom to share with each other. May the grace of God be with you all. Amen

        • 4Commencefiring4

          I await your banking information and letter of approval so that the funds can be transferred to you without delay.

  • Peter

    I agree with you completely, but I have a question for you: When people speak in this “prayer language” what do you think is actually happening. I’ve heard people say they don’t know why they started speaking in that “prayer language,” and didn’t even know what they were saying. My question is what is causing this to happen? Is it the devil? Or what is making them do that?

    • Seems to me Peter that demonic forces are always a possibility. I also think we can work ourselves up quite a bit as well without demonic intervention. Simply being in a large group of people acting a particular way can sway us in that direction. Good question.

    • Alex

      People can get worked up very easily, especially when thinking of the creator. When fighting in Martial Arts, there are things called Hi-up (hee-up), like when Bruce Lee fights he makes the crazy noises, or the classic “hiyaaa” etc… I think of many of these of “prayer” languages as just that, however, when you pray you are not training in a dojo, or making a movie, but communicating with the creator, by the grace of the LORD JESUS. It is better to pray with intelligable words, with distinct notes, and have respect for what is going on.
      Are we going to blame the devil always? the battle is with our flesh. Surely any doctrine that is not the truth is of demons, and I think that it is safe to say “rare is the Christian that has not been led astray or perpetuated doctrines of demons in one way or another”. That being said, to accuse demons of actively cavorting during misled Christian’s “prayer language” time is unhelpful to the point. Instead, challenge them to pray with intelligible words in the name of JESUS who died on the cross for them. Ultimately, the cross is the most humbling thing a Christian can meditate on, and ultimately, humility is going to be what cuts through this whole charismatic business, because it is the natural pride that is in every human that feeds (the want to stand out, the entitlement, the want for immediate gratification).
      We must remember that all false doctrines attempt to render the Christian stagnant, as a true Christian cannot be damned. Any attempt to address these issues must be done in that spirit, as an attempt to free a brother from a snare that has hindered their walk. If you pull the wrong way on a snare it tightens.

      Quick observation, I see so many brothers influenced by wives or mothers regarding this topic, sentimentality is a huge deal here, as many Men who don’t actively participate in this, give it a pass or refuse to address.

  • Zach Putthoff

    Excellent! Thanks for this!

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  • Dale Wilson

    Excellent article Nathan. I really liked how you categorized the similarities between the accounts in Acts and 1 Corinthians. Also, I had never thought before how having Acts written after 1 Corinthians only further strengthens the case. Interesting insight!

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Pastor Nate Busenitz,

    Would you be receptive to addressing any possible forthcoming questions by Pastor Wm. Dwight McKissic, Sr. about the arguments laid out in this blogpost?

    He said he’d like to be able to ask you some questions in the comment thread of this post that he wrote:


  • Pingback: The Private, Devotional Use of Tongues | Pastor Nick's Blog()

  • Randy H Johnson

    God forbid that speaking tongues could actually just be the Holy Spirit giving us words to speak/pray that bypass the limitations and prejudices of our human minds and allow us to communicate with God spirit to Spirit, since “he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but God…”

    God forbid that tongues could be the “tongues of men and of angels” so that what is being said is less important at that moment than the fact that we are cooperating with the Holy Spirit in a supernatural manifestation to teach us how to respond and move in the Spirit.

    God forbid that Christianity be anything more than an intellectual exercise and the Holy Spirit be anything more than a nebulous, amorphous, impersonal force that we acknowledge but never really meet, and who stays well within the parameters of human logic, social respectability, and the laws of physics.

    God forbid that even with the admitted abuses of spiritual manifestations by well intentioned yet misinformed people, that there be a spiritual and physical reality to anything in the New Testament that is supernatural and just as valid in the 21st century as in the first.

    As we all know, Jesus Christ is not the same yesterday, today and forever. He gave us the Holy Spirit as a temporary stop-gap measure until He could get the boys to get the New Testament together. After that, he took back the Holy Spirit and replaced Him with a book.